In fashion fabric you will generally want an extra half yard to allow for matching plaids, and other patterns. Home décor is different, as the average repeat is about half a yard, and can go up to 1 ½ yards. Further, you do have to be aware of the horizontal as well as the vertical repeat. Study the pattern on the fabric you have selected. Determine use of fabric--pants, jacket, shirt, dress?
The above fabric is an excellent example of the type of planning you will need to do before determining, if the fabric is appropriate for you--the purpose for which you intend--how much fabric to get, and then, how to cut it.
I love this fabric and haven’t done anything with it because, I don’t know how best to use it. It would make beautiful panels in a screen, a long or short quilted coat—summer dress, shirt, a shade, a bedspread…the options are endless. The design is timeless, and when does, red, blue, black, brown and/or green go out of style. But, as wonderful as this fabric is, it also shows the challenges home décor fabric can present when dealing with a large print.
So--can we make a coat out of this? and if so--how much fabric will be needed?
The horizontal repeat is 27". Things get interesting with the vertical repeat. The print is 27” vertical on the reader's left and 24.5 on the reader's right. There is never a point where the two vertical lines resolve. This is not a problem as we would want the smaller birds in the front of the coat, and the larger one in the back. The size of the larger bird is as follows: from the bottom of the red planter to the tip of the head of the second blue bird is 32”. Now, with this information, let’s think of how to turn this fabric into a coat. Without any specific coat in mind, there are certain universal presumptions we can make. First, the coat will have a back, two front panels, and two sleeves. The coat may or may not have a collar or outside pockets. But, I will calculate an extra 3” for the collar to make sure I can start the main part of the pattern where I need it to start. Second, we know the largest single piece will be the back, which more times than not will be cut on the fold, along the grain. Sadly, 27” for a coat back is not going to be doable for most large women.
Replace the LED lights with piping and that should give you an idea of of how to create a flattering look with bold lines.
But, today’s fashions are making liberal use of piping to help define shape and look. So I can add fabric to the width of the bird using decorative piping. In fact, if you look at this blue dress illuminated with LED lights, and replace the lights with piping, you will have a very good idea of ways to widen or lengthen your fabric so that a design falls where it needs to. My last question is, Will I be able to cut the back so that the pattern falls correctly down my back and front panels.
For instance, this daisy print in chenille--you wouldn't want to spend $20.00 a yard for the flower to end up resting on your rear. This is where my length from the bottom of the pot to the tip of the second blue bird’s head comes in. As the measurement from the nape of the neck to the under arm for most sleeve patterns is about 15", I have enough fabric to place the image in the center of the coat, with proper composition .
Commercially available piping
Most commercial piping is wrapped in cotton fabric
A Few Words On Piping
Piping or cording, is a cotton sometimes cotton/poly roping (available at most home decor stores). This roping is bound by fabric, it may or may not have a flange for sewing. The above are examples of typical commercially made piping. My rule of thumb in making piping is circumference plus 2” inches. This gives me enough for a flange.
Ok, Back On Topic
I will need two more panels for the front, which means I will go two small birds down or roughly 49". As the large bird is completely within this calculation, that technically is all we will be need for the front and back. 27” will be too wide for the front panel so, what I don’t use here can be used for the sleeve, back and cording (piping).
Now is when I can play things safe or take risks. The center brown and black stripe separating the birds can be used to extend the width of the back fabric, inserting piping wrapped with a good color sampling of the fabric. In this way I will have a dominant brown and black stripe in my coat with the birds popping out nicely. In this example, I think putting the birds on the sleeves might be a bit much, so I would make the sleeves out of a black, brown, and if I had enough, out of the black/brown stripe, using a small, narrow piping to join the pieces. I would have the piping appear vertically down the sleeve to lengthen my lines.
Alternatively, I can just buy contrasting fabric--here are a few examples. Notice, there is no right or wrong color to select, red, blue, black, brown, all are appropriate, and would look stylish. What color do you like? Need in your wardrobe? Enjoy wearing? Or, looks best on you? I selected diamond shapes because, this pattern is often used for transitioning, or paneling an object.
The diamond pattern is often used for transition.
The colors in the pattern allow for a wide range of combinations.
What color looks good on you...
This fabric can work with a number of colors.
The classic design of the fabric makes many options work.
Don't be afraid of color or design..it is your friend.
The dominant black will pull the eye to the vertical lines
Persimmon in a popular color in home decor
Play with texture, as well as color.
As you can see, I do a lot of pre-planning before I actually purchase the fabric. In this way I know where it will fit and, how it will compliment my wardrobe. I believe that I can make a coat out of this fabric, and anticipate I will need 1 1/2 -2 yards for the body of the coat, and if I don't piece the sleeves, ¾ to 1 yard for the sleeves. It will be a short car coat or jacket.
The smaller birds may require a little boarder because they are shorter than the big bird, but, there will be enough fabric for this. When calculating, try and include a fudge factor for mistakes, or unexpected inspirations. Hence, the extra half a yard.
Always, before the fabric is cut in the store, make sure when it is rolled out, that you are getting what you have calculated. Customer cuts before you will change the repeats.
I would quilt this fabric, sleeves, and all, but doubt this would change the calculations.
Thank you again for joining me. By avoiding some of the not so obvious pitfalls in working with home decor fabric, you can end up with wonderful, flattering, and engaging clothes.
Until next week, God Bless.